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Analyst firm calls Q1 Apple iPhone shipments early and says they plunged

iPhone6s and plus

TrendForce, a relatively new player in the smartphone market tracking game, reckons it knows how many iPhones Apple shipped in Q1 even though they won’t be formally announced until next week.

While the research methodology remains a mystery, TrendForce is a well-established tech market data firm, best known for DRAMeXchange, which tracks the price of DRAM and Flash memory. Established smartphone analysts such as Strategy Analytics and IDC tend to use data direct from the smartphone vendors to track ‘sell in’, while GfK uses point-of-sale terminals to track ‘sell through’. Unless Apple, Samsung, etc are guiding TrendForce early it has to be assumed these numbers are estimates.

That doesn’t mean they won’t be close to the official numbers, however, and if they are remotely accurate they point to a pretty major sequential shipment drop-off for Apple. Trendforce reckons Apple’s market global market share fell from 21% in Q4 2015 to 14% in Q1 2016.

As you can see from the tables below, Trendforce estimates the total market size to be significantly smaller than the analyst consensus tracked by Telecoms.com, but it does acknowledge Apple’s official 75 million number for Q4. The unit shipment estimate for Apple Q1 is 42 million, which is a 44% decline. Apple’s numbers always drop off in Q1 as it tends to start selling new iPhones in Q4, which is also the strongest quarter across the board, but in Q1 2015 iPhone shipments only fell by 18%.

“As the budget model, iPhone SE will support Apple’s overall shipments in the second quarter before the next major iPhone release,” said Avril Wu of TrendForce. “However, iPhone SE is going to face severe price competition from Chinese branded products in its target market, which is the mid-range device segment. This year’s iPhone SE shipments are projected to come in below 15 million units and they are unlikely to help turn around the weak annual shipment result for Apple.”

Trendforce Q1 2016 smartphones

Q4 2015 smartphone shipments table


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